Ways to Excite Kids about Gardening Chores

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Fiskars rake

Two things that drive parents crazy during summer vacation: kids moaning about doing chores and kids complaining about being bored. I know.

I was one of those groaning kids who didn’t always appreciate the joys of working on a farm. And, yes, if I had a stretch of free time, I might end up griping to my mom: “I’m boooorrred.”  As an adult, I feel for my mom every time I hear a kid singing a similar song of woe to her parents – whether over being asked to entertain herself or help out around the house. So, I developed easy ways to keep kids happily busy and learning in the garden.

Teaching kids responsibility by way of chores is great. They learn to value an allowance or other reward at the end of completing a task. But, there’s something about the idea of chores and work that can be a turnoff as well. So, if that word has created a grumpy kid, how about turning “chores” into “games” instead? And, yes, those games can come with financial or other fun rewards.

Consider trying these game ideas from Spring through Fall:

Nickle Slugs: Kids love to dig around in the dirt to pick up worms and slugs, so why not incentivize that task to increase productivity? Give your child a jar or recycled container filled with a bit of soapy water, and send him into the garden to hunt for slugs. For each slug he collects and drowns or squishes or feeds to your chickens, reward him with a nickel (or whatever amount you can afford).


Fiskars Uproot Weed & Root Remover getting the entire weed root out


Pop-a-Lion: The Fiskars® Uproot® Weed & Root Remover makes for a team sport for siblings. Provide a pair of kids each with a large bucket and an Uproot® tool to share, and send them out onto the lawn to pop dandelions. (Of course, be sure to teach them how to use the tool safely before they begin on their own.)The game:the kids take alternating turns popping up weeds and inserting what they pop into the bucket. Once both buckets are filled, they bring their collections to you for inspection. The winner isn’t the one with the most popped weeds. Instead, the winner has the most popped weeds with unbroken taproots. That’ll keep them busy for a while, and once they realize their profits, they may beg to pop some more!

Skeeter Squirt: Mosquitos and kids have one thing in common: Both love water in the summertime. If your kids are grumbling they want to get wet, send them into the garden for a skeeter squirt. This just amounts to giving your kids the hose to rinse out birdbaths and exchange the water. Their fun with the hose will get rid of mosquito larvae. Their reward: fun playing in the water on a hot day!

Raking for Dollars: Try burying a few dollar bills or sticker sheets randomly among the fallen autumn leaves before you put a rake in your kids’ hands and point them into the yard. Let them know you’ve buried some treasure to find as they rake. And, if you’re worried they’ll only rake until they find the prizes, offer an added incentive of extra cash for the biggest pile to jump in or the cleanest area at the end of the day.

So, the next time your kid complains that there’s nothing to do, just pull out the garden game list, and send them outside to play. Once they get started, they won’t have time to care that you really sent them outside to do chores.